Whilst Australia is well-known for the Gold Coast and sandy beaches, most people don’t realise that they also have a ski industry as well. Whilst less well-known than its Pacific neighbour New Zealand, don’t forget about Australia when planning some southern hemisphere snowsports.
Visa and working regulations
If you’re Australian, easy peasy, you’re in. Also, if you’re a New Zealand passport holder then the process is also pretty simple as the 1973 Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement allows both citizens to live, work and visit without the need to apply for authority. This can depend on a number of factors such as the economic climate so it’s always worth checking. If you’re not from Australia or New Zealand, you will definitely need to take the visa situation into account and work out if it’s a viable option. There are a number of different visas available to apply for to work in Australia, here are some of the most useful options:
- Working holiday visa: for people aged 18-31 (whilst applying) from eligible countries, with no dependents travelling with them. This is probably one of the simplest visas (if eligible) and can give you up to 2 years in Australia with unrestricted numbers of departures from the country.
- Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) visa: this is probably more relevant for professional skiers (i.e. racers) as a high level sporting competitor.
- Temporary Work (Skilled) visa: this visa is sponsored by the company that you will have confirmed work with and is for temporary workers (up to four years) with specific skill sets. There are a number of other sponsored visas available.
Make sure you do your research though, the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection is a good place to start. Each of the visas has a cost associated with it, and some ski schools may be able to help with the cost, or with sponsoring. Although this is less likely if you haven’t worked for the ski school previously.
These are all solutions if you’re looking for temporary work in Australia (such as during the ski season), but if you want to emigrate and live/work in Australia permanently you will need to find out more about migrating to Australia or gaining citizenship.
The general rule is that only qualified instructors will be offered work, but the level of qualification required may vary between snowsports schools so it’s worth doing your research depending on which system you’re in and what level you hold. A lot of ski schools will hold hiring clinics, similar to Canada just before the season starts in May, and a lot of vacancies will be advertised on ski school and resort websites from the new year onwards. APSI have a lot of useful information on how to apply for and get a job as an instructor in Australia.
You can also work through the Australian APSI system if you’d prefer although there aren’t really any structured courses to guide you through as there are in other countries.
Whilst there isn’t a vast amount of choice in Australia compared to some countries, it shouldn’t be discounted. Across the Australian Alps in south-eastern Australia (Victoria and New South Wales) there are more than 20 recognised ski areas, some of the more well-know are Perisher, Thredbo and Mount Buller, and Tasmania is also home to 5 ski areas.
Their seasons are generally relatively short as well, from about mid-June to mid to late September, although opening and closing dates will depend on the conditions each year. Ski resorts in Australia are more like ‘ski hills’ as described in some countries such as Canada and Scotland. They are much smaller than the big European resorts with a limited number of uplifts and runs, and often a lot of man-made snow (again, depending on the conditions each year).
Whilst general living costs are not that dissimilar to other western countries (and food can be expensive), you may find accommodation costs are relatively cheaper. Often resorts will have ‘worker’ accommodation, which will be shared and relatively basic, but pretty reasonable. For some snowsports schools, the amount will be deducted from your payslip and may even be subsidised as well as part of your employment package. You’re likely to include discounts at places to eat, drink and socialise as well.